Italy’s Adriatic coast, 1978: where the jeans where white, the sunglasses mirrored and the scooters two-stroke.
Baia Degli Angeli: mythical, white-walled, pleasure-dome for the rich and beautiful; its DJ booth housed in a glass elevator so that the selectors could service all four floors at once, dance-floors that were among the first in Europe to hear New York-style, beat-matched mixing.
DJ Rubens: The “third man” of Italy’s Afro-Cosmic scene (that drugged-out, dubbed-out satellite of the Ibizan Balearic mothership).
Daniele Baldelli and DJ Mozart were the sonic alchemists of this much-discussed, little-understood musical micro-climate…and, once the New York DJ’s had left, the Baia was their laboratory. Baldelli the hyper-prepared disciplinarian; Mozart the looser, organic improviser. Whilst each had their own approach, unpicking their individual contributions is perhaps as fruitless as arguing who was best, Morecambe or Wise?
And yet, some say that DJ Rubens was the brightest star of all – more capable than Mozart but free of the methodological constraints of Baldelli. Sadly an all-too-familiar tale of missed chances and drug-fuelled excess (“He lost it before anyone else” according to Gianni Zuffa, record-supplier to the scene), has relegated him to a minor figure in this beguiling left-turn from the dancefloor super-highway.
Unsurprisingly little survives of his work behind the decks, so we’ll have to make do with this all-too-short set that purports to be from the Baia Degli Angeli (despite him never having held a residency there).
But putting aside any doubts about historical accuracy (this is the Internet after all), sit back and enjoy a 30 minute musicological fragment from a rather special time and place.
Download: DJ Rubens – Baia Degli Angeli, 1978 (right-click)